Misconception Number 17: People can’t afford organic products, so promoting them will reduce fruit and vegetable consumption, which are healthy, but expensive when organic.
Summary of Counter-Arguments:
|- The relatively high cost of fruits and vegetables and relatively low cost of oil, fat, and sugar do not reflect the actual price of these items and have been distorted by agricultural policies. |
- The evidence shows that organic consumers consume more fruits and vegetables and less unhealthy foodstuff than the general population. Promoting an organic diet will only promote healthier eating habits.
Details of Counter-Arguments:
Past and current agricultural policies have contributed to making healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, relatively more expensive than less healthy foods. Taxpayers' money has been used to subsidize the very parts of the food chain that are causing the obesity epidemic today . The over-production of oil, fat, and sugar, largely due to government subsidies to protect farm industry revenues, has contributed over decades to the health crisis we are experiencing today. These policies result in the distortion of the sticker prices that make these less healthy foods seem less expensive – regardless of their organic status.
The facts show that organic consumers tend to consume more fruits and vegetables, and less fats and sugar than the general population, because they are already sensitized about the importance of healthy nutrition. Many organic consumers also buy no meat or less meat and fewer readily-made meals, which are relatively expensive, therefore, enabling themselves to purchase more fruits and vegetables within the same budget. Organic products contain less water and more nutrients, so you can eat less (and buy less quantity) for the same nutritional benefit. Therefore, buying organic food products that are a bit more expensive does not necessarily mean having a higher total food budget.
Even if organic consumers were to spend a slightly larger share of their income on food (and less on other consumption goods) this wouldn’t necessarily be a disaster, given the trend of the past decades. For example, in France the share of food expense in the total household budget has decreased from 45 to 14 percent over the last 40 years.
Promoting organics is, therefore, not likely to reduce fruit and vegetable consumption, but rather it will increase consumers’ awareness of sound nutrition in general and lead consumers to change their food habits and/or create incentives for consumers to dedicate a larger share of their total budget to the important goal of improved nutrition. Moreover, organic fruits and vegetables have enhanced health properties compared to non-organic fruits and vegetables, so even if consumers eat the same quantities of these organic items, they will enjoy improved health benefits.
 Professor Philip James, chair of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), during an International Congress on Obesity in Sydney